Marc Jacobs was born to a non-observant Jewish family in New York City on April 9, 1963. When he was seven, his father, an agent at the William Morris agency, died. His mother, who remarried three times, was “mentally ill” and “didn’t really take care of her kids”, according to Jacobs. As a teenager, he went to live with his paternal grandmother on the Upper West Side, in an apartment in the Majestic on Central Park West.
He attended the High School of Art and Design and studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York. While at Parsons in 1984, Jacobs won the Perry Ellis Gold Thimble Award, Chester Weinberg Gold Thimble Award, and Design Student of the Year Award. He also won an award in 1991 from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
At age 15, Jacobs worked as a stockboy at Charivari, a now-defunct avant-garde clothing boutique in New York City. While still at Parsons, Jacobs designed and sold his first line of hand-knit sweaters. He also designed his first collection for Reuben Thomas, Inc., under the Sketchbook label. With Robert Duffy, Jacobs’s creative collaborator, and business partner since the mid-1980s, he formed Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc.
In 1986, backed by Onward Kashiyama USA, Inc., Jacobs designed his first collection bearing the Marc Jacobs label. In 1987, Jacobs was the youngest designer to have ever been awarded the fashion industry’s highest tribute, the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Perry Ellis Award for “New Fashion Talent”. In 1988, Jacobs and Duffy joined the women’s design unit of Perry Ellis as vice president and president, respectively, following the death of its namesake and founder. In addition, Jacobs oversaw the design of the various women’s licensees. In 1992, the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded Jacobs with The Women’s Designer of the Year Award. In the same year, he designed a “grunge” collection for Perry Ellis, leading to his dismissal.
In the fall of 1993, Jacobs Duffy Designs Inc. launched their own licensing and design company: Marc Jacobs International Company, L.P. In 1994, Jacobs produced his first full collection of menswear. In 1997, Jacobs was appointed Louis Vuitton’s creative director, where he created the company’s first ready-to-wear clothing line. Jacobs has collaborated with many popular artists for his Louis Vuitton collections, including Stephen Sprouse, Takashi Murakami and most recently American artist Richard Prince and rapper Kanye West.
In the spring of 2001, Jacobs introduced his secondary line, Marc by Marc Jacobs. In 2005, Look was the Marc by Marc Jacobs ready-to-wear license holder in Japan with retail value of €50 million. In 2006, Jacobs started a new line of body-splash fragrances in affordable huge ten-ounce bottles which are distributed by Coty. First only being sold in perfume boutiques, they have become more and more popular during the recent years. In 2007 filmmaker Loïc Prigent released a documentary film about Jacobs entitled Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton. In February 2008, Jacobs was accused of plagiarizing a scarf design created in the 1950s by Swedish designer Gösta Olofsson. Jacobs settled the matter by offering monetary compensation to Olofsson’s son. In 2009, Jacobs launched a shirt, sold at his stores, demanding the legalization of gay marriage. In May 2009, Jacobs co-hosted, with fashion model Kate Moss, a “model and muse”-themed gala for the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
In February 2010, Jacobs sued Ed Hardy for infringing on the designs of one of his embroidered handbags. In the course of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin in July 2011 Jacobs was the patron of the young talent award “Designer for Tomorrow by Peek & Cloppenburg”. The five finalists were selected by Jacob and the juryboard and received a personal coaching by Jacobs. The juryboard and Jacobs appointed the winner of 2011 during the DfT award show. In August 2011, it was reported that Jacobs may succeed John Galliano as creative director of Christian Dior. According to The Daily Telegraph, Jacobs “firmly laid to rest rumors that he was to move to Christian Dior” in January 2012, but rumors prevail.
In February 2013, Jacobs was named the new creative director for Diet Coke. In honor of the brand’s 30th anniversary, Jacobs will spend one year where he is slated to give the brand a “stylish and light-hearted” makeover. In March 2013, the New York Daily News revealed that the “faux fur” used in many Marc Jacobs garments is actually the fur from raccoon dogs from China.
In October 2013, after the Spring – Summer 2014 show, it was revealed that Marc Jacobs will leave Louis Vuitton to focus on his own line.
On January 9, 2014 it was announced that Jacobs’s new Spring-Summer collection would feature actress/singer Miley Cyrus photographed by David Sims.
On February 26, 2014, it was announced that actress Jessica Lange would be the new face of Marc Jacobs Beauty. In addition, it was announced that Lange would be featured in the brand’s summer and fall print ad campaign photographed by David Sims, and would also star in a short campaign film directed by Jacobs, which will start streaming online May 5, 2014. Previously, Jacobs dressed and interviewed Lange for Love Magazine’s fifth anniversary issue, and had her provide a spoken-word version of Happy Days Are Here Again as the soundtrack for his autumn/winter 2014 show.